By John Bush
LIMA — Mayor David Berger announced Wednesday a $150 million river cleanup project is the “largest single capital expenditure the city has made.”
Speaking at his weekly briefing, which was moved from city hall to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, Berger explained this project is the last phase of improvements that have been going on for 20 years.
A large portion of the project involves improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. Mike Caprella, deputy director of utilities for the city of Lima, said enhancements to the plant will cost an estimated $27 million over two years.
Berger said funding for the project is being derived from rates paid by local customers, adding that no state or federal grants were available.
“It’s a huge investment and it’s a huge obligation the city is taking on, but we think by doing the work that’s being done here, it will be a much better river environment for aquatic life and overall habitat,” Berger said. “We appreciate everybody’s investment in this.”
One major improvement city officials hope the project will accomplish includes reducing combined sewer overflows into the Ottawa River. During a storm, Berger said, rain combines with untreated wastewater in single pipes, which flows into the river and causes unsanitary conditions. He said increasing capacity at the wastewater treatment plant will cut down on these overflows.
Berger said this project will increase the wastewater treatment plant’s capacity from 45 to 50 million gallons of wastewater per day to 70 million.
If the project is successful, Berger said the Ottawa River watershed will achieve “full attainment” in the eyes of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, meaning the condition of the river and its tributaries will have improved to a point where the EPA considers it acceptable.
Reach John Bush at TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com.